My colleagues say they’re surprised I have time to blog.
I’m surprised that they don’t.
It isn’t just about blogging though. These days a blog is an extension of social media.
Forget for a moment the fun (and anarchy) of interacting with thousands of people on a regular basis or the sense of being a part of an expansive global community.
Let’s think about it commercially.
If you’re absent from an online discussion where I’m present, I probably have an edge on you.
And edges matter.
You learn not to take much for granted in this profession.
You can’t take for granted that your client will come up to proof, or that the Judge won’t find that unhelpful clause buried in the illegible small print of a 92-page lease from the 1970s.
She probably will.
You can’t take for granted that there will always be work for you, let alone desirable work.
Even if you’re exceptionally talented, you won’t always be in demand. Laws change, fees are slashed and the market suddenly doesn’t need you anymore.
Your online presence holds a value, however intangible or incomprehensible it may seem for now. You can’t take it for granted.
If you think that your clients aren’t Googling you on their smartphone to find out more about this person they are about to meet for the first time, you’re wrong.
If you think that other lawyers don’t Google you before considering your suitability for a high-value, high-risk brief, you’re wrong.
Of course they do. In the same way people shop around for a mortgage, hair dye or any other significant transaction.
Word-of-mouth travels far. But offline discussions can be shaped by what you do and say online.
Faced with an abundance of choice and competitive pricing, your online activity could help tip the balance in your favour.
Your search results on Google may not reveal much about you. That isn’t always a good thing.
How will a client know you’re right for them and their case?
Alternatively, search results may reveal too much about you or present you in an unflattering light.
Your attitude and values (or lack of them) may put some people off. But that’s probably for the best. You can’t please everyone all the time. And blandness is rarely a selling point in a personality-obsessed society.
My point is: the way that people find and choose their lawyers is changing.
Traditional legal directories like Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 are being shaken up by social media. Popular as the directories are (especially among lawyers) today’s clients have access to a much wider range of unsanitised information about you and will probably base their decisions on the full picture.
Your online presence (beyond your official profile) is an important commercial asset.
Protect it, nurture it and it will grow.
Neglect it and you are choosing to make yourself irrelevant at a time of transition and upheaval.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Adaptation rarely is. I plan to discuss some of the challenges, tips and tricks in a further post and (at some point) an e-book.
But right now, my blog allows an increasing number of potential clients to find and contact me after hearing what I have to say.
If you aren’t already, get blogging now and help your future clients learn more about you.
This post first appeared on LinkedIn. Check out my profile here.